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MAY 7, 2018

          Jesus links answered prayer to you producing fruit. "You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit — fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. This is my command: Love each other" (John 15:16-17).

          When you bear fruit, your prayers are more accurate and will get answers from God. What kind of fruit is He telling you to bear? He gives you the hint by telling you to "Love each other." Love is the top fruit of the Spirit. Paul mentions nine fruits of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23, "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control."

          How is it that bearing fruit will cause your prayers to be answered?

          God gave me a revelation that totally changed the way I saw prayers being answered. What He showed me was this: God uses the fruit of the Spirit to actually cause your prayers to be answered.  Let me explain.

          One of the most common prayer request is for marriage. Many people ask God to heal a broken marriage, or stop the bickering and strife. So while a person is asking God to heal the marriage, if the person who is praying is walking in love, then God will use their love to heal the marriage.

          You can't be asking God to heal a marriage while hating the person you are married to. The very hate and anger will hinder God from answering the prayer. So when you walk in love, God uses your own love to bring the answer to your prayers.

          Another example is the fruit of joy. People often suffer depression, sadness, and grief. So they pray for God to heal their depression. God will heal their depression by giving them the fruit of the Spirit called joy. Joy overcomes depression.

          If you are simply depressed and asking God to take away the depression, but you refuse to walk in the joy of the Lord, then your prayers will go unanswered. You are wanting God to set you free from depression, when in reality, He provided you with joy as the answer.

          Let us take the third fruit on the list: peace. One of the most common prayer request concerns fear. People often pray for God to remove fear, anxiety and worry from them. God will get rid of fear, but He does it through the fruit of peace. When you walk in God's peace, then fear is banished. Can you see the correlation between the fruit of the Spirit and answered prayers?

          The fourth fruit is patience. Now, many are praying for success or health, but then they constantly give up. In one moment they affirm that they will get well, then when the symptoms persist, they confess the supremacy of the disease over their bodies. How can they get well, if they refuse to cultivate the fruit of patience? The Bible says that we inherit the promises of God through faith and patience. So you see that without patience working in a person's life, then prayers for health often go unanswered.

          The next fruit is kindness. People often pray about relationship problems. They wonder why no one seems to like them. They pray for favor with human beings. God will give you favor, through your kindness. If you act unkind, then don't be surprised if people are unkind to you. You must bear the fruit of kindness for the promise of favor to work in your life. God will cause people to like you and give you preferential treatment, but only when you are kind.

          Goodness is the sixth fruit of the Spirit. Goodness produces godliness. Paul says, "Godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come" (1 Tim 4:8). Godliness has benefits in this life. It produces stress free living. It produces good results in your life. But when you are ungodly, then it produces troubles in your life. How many people have trouble with the law because they live wrong. They drink and drive. They steal, they sell drugs, and commit sexual immorality. This brings trouble on a person's life. So while you pray for God to help with the bad consequences of your sins, God will answer if you change the ungodly behavior. You can't continue to do drugs, drink too much, fornicate—and expect God's blessings. You can pray and pray, and your prayers will not be answered because you are not bearing the fruit of godliness.

          Faithfulness is the next fruit on the list. This fruit brings prosperity! It is the fruit of prosperity.

          The main cause of prosperity is faithfulness in your life. When you are faithful, you keep your word. People can count on you. You come to work on time, never late. God is faithful and He is never late. When you tell your boss that the project you are doing will be finished by a certain date, then as a faithful person, it is finished on time or even early. When you tell a customer that they will get their products by a certain time for a specific price, then they get it in time at the price you quoted. Unfaithful people are undependable people. These people do not get promotions. They get only small raises. Why? Because prosperity comes to the faithful person.

          Prayer for money is a common prayer. Yet, while people are praying for money, they undermine the answer by their unfaithfulness. You see, God will use your faithfulness to promote you, give you raises, and increase your business.

          Let's move to the next fruit. Gentleness is to treat people like fragile individuals. It is the opposite of being strict and harsh. A minister asked how to handle people in the church. I told him, "It's simple: treat people gently. Don't be overly harsh with them." You see, pastors are constantly asking for their church and ministry to grow, yet they drive people away because they are harsh and too strict. Gentleness is the fruit of leadership. You can ask God to bless your leadership, and if you are gentle, God will use it to bless your enterprise.

          The last fruit on the list is self control. I suppose one of the top prayer request involves freedom from addictions. This is a good request. As you can already see that self control is the answer to addiction. God has provided the power of Spirit to enable you to overcome all sins. The Spirit will not allow you to be overcome by anything.

          So while you pray for freedom, God smiles and says, "I will answer your prayer for freedom through self control."

          As you can see, the fruit of the Spirit is absolutely necessary to get your prayers answered.


Make Every Effort


          "For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love" (2 Peter 1:5-7). Peter explains that to cultivate the fruit of the Spirit you must "make every effort."

          The reason you can make an effort to grow in the fruit is because the Holy Spirit dwells in you. Peter could never tell sinners to make every effort to be more fruitful, because they are sinners and born with a sinful nature. They do not have power to grow in the fruit of the Spirit, because they don't have the Spirit. You, as a child of God, have the Holy Spirit to produce the fruit of the Spirit.

          You cannot produce these wonderful fruits without the power of God. Jesus said it this way, "No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me" (John 15:4). Try this experiment. Cut off a leafy branch from a tree. Now, let's see how the leaves react in the next few weeks.

          You say, "I don't need to wait to see what will happen. I know what will happen. The leaves will fall off." Correct, because branches cannot grow on their own. Jesus says to all humans, "You are branches. As long as you try on your own without God's help, you will not produce fruit." Do you need evidence that the world is fruitless?

          Look at the crime and prisons filled to overflowing. Look at the high divorce rate. Divorce is the result of bankrupt love. Go on social media and in just a few minutes you will read the hatred spewing out of people's heart. Mothers and fathers are estranged from their children. Children have nothing to do with their parents. What? How can this be? It should be easy to love our parents and children, yet anger has overcome many families. Needless and greedy lawsuits congest the courts. Corrupt politicians and judges span the world. Angry people shoot up concerts, nightclubs, churches and other public places. Sexually transmitted diseases and unwed pregnancies have become common. Over a million pre-born babies are killed every year in America. How cold can we get? Do you need anymore evidence of the need for God in our lives?

          We are all branches, everyone of us! As long as you walk away from God, then you cannot produce fruit. Every person needs God, and especially His vice-regent, the Holy Spirit, to produce fruit.

          While the Spirit does live in you as a believer, you must still cultivate the work of the Spirit through "effort." What is the effort you are to make? The Greek word for effort means to study diligently in order put what you learn into practice speedily.

          Your effort is to study the Word of God, especially those areas that you need to produce fruit, and when you find what the Word tells you to do, you do not hesitate, but you do it quickly. If you hesitate, then the enemy will convince you not to do the Word.

          For example, the Bible says, 'Wine is a mocker and beer a brawler;

whoever is led astray by them is not wise" (Prov 20:1). So how do you quickly apply the passage. Simple, you immediately stop drinking too much. If you are an alcoholic, you stop completely. You don't wait till next week to apply the passage. Wrong! You do it now. That's what Peter means when he writes, "Make every effort." You are not making every effort to add to the fruit of the Spirit by delaying. When you delay to do the Word, you are making a "partial" effort.

          You don't need to wait until you feel ready to be reconcile to your spouse. You don't need to tell the marriage counselor, "Well, I will have to think about forgiving him. I know I should, but I am not ready to forgive just yet." Wrong! You are not making every effort to add the fruit of love and forgiveness. There should be no delay in obeying God's Word. Once you find it in God's Word what to do, you do it now!

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